The news of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death Mar. 5 shook up the entire world. Not only Latin Americans but people from other regions and countries broke into tears. By contrast, some Western countries such as Canada were tempted to make a toast.
The major newspaper in Argentina, Clarin, defined Chavez as “the father, master and supreme lord of Venezuela”. Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kircher, declared that Chavez was a liberator of minds and thanks to him millions of Venezuelans know how to read as well as write. Kirchner also added that “men like Chavez never die”.
Latin America mourns a hero
As for the main Cuban newspapers, Granma and Juventud Rebelde showed their extreme sorrow by announcing a tribute to Chavez today, which lasted from 8 a.m until 8 p.m. “Our country, Venezuela, will pay tribute to our loveable leader of the Bolivian Revolution,” the front page declared.
In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa was extremely affected. Correa declared that Chavez will be more alive than ever, and he will be remembered as one of the most inspiring revolutionary leaders in all Latin America. “A great Latino-American is gone,” he concluded.
Brazilian president Dilma Roussef’s words were also very touching. “Chavez left an irreparable void in the heart, history and conflicts in the region,” he said. The former President of Brazil, Lula Da Silva, said “…thanks to Chavez, Venezuelan people have rights and now they must be mature and move on as much as they can.”
Russia and China expressed their regrets about Chavez’s death. Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted that Chavez was an extraordinary human being as well as good friend of Russia. The Chinese government spokesperson defined Chavez as “a great leader and a very good friend of China”.
The Toronto Star: “He loved to play the fool”
However, the messages of condolence were not that positive in the Western Countries. In Canada, the words from Prime Minister Stephen Harper were slightly bitter: “I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better brighter future”.
OnFeb. 6 a front page article in The Toronto Star jumped out at the reader’s eyes. “He loved to play the fool,” the Star wrote. “Of all the weapons in his political armoury, the dummy act was probably his favourite device,” is how the Star described Chavez.
As for The U.S. one of the major enemies of Chavez, Obama was actually very polite by affirming that Venezuela starts a new chapter and the U.S remains committed to policies that promote rule of law as well as respect for human rights.
Nevertheless, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican U.S Congresswoman from Florida, did not mince her words by stating that this is a great opportunity to let democracy get into Venezuela.
Expats dancing in the streets
The big party took place in Miami where thousands of Venezuelans as well as other Latino expatriates took the streets to celebrate Chavez’s death. While flying Venezuela’s flags, they shouted, “Chavez is finally gone”.
In Spain there was not too much sorrow. Hundreds of people from the media and arts fields as well as ordinary citizens made bitter and ironic statements on Twitter. “Karma exists, Chavez is dead”, and “Now he is dead, everybody became a Chavez follower. What is going to happen when Ricky Martin dies?” were some of the memorable tweets.
Sorrow or celebration, it is clear that Venezuela’s future is uncertain. It is hard to determine if this will be a step forward or back. Sometimes, as the proverb says, “better the devil you know, that the devil you do not”.